June 24, 2019
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    After executing a perfect yorker that felled the last Afghan wicket and led Sri Lanka to their first victory in the World Cup, seamer Lasith Malinga fell to his knees. His relief was understandable. On the one hand, it was also Sri Lanka’s first win after 21 attempts. And on the other, Malinga had a point to prove.In December, cricket selectors led by Asantha de Mel appointed Malinga as captain of the limited-over side. He replaced Dinesh Chandimal and hoped to take the team to the World Cup. But an internal revolt forced selectors to choose a compromise candidate. While they were in favour of Malinga—a man with good cricketing brain—there was too much pressure within to have him removed.
    It was a bitter pill for a man who played with passion and dedication throughout his near 15-year international career. But Malinga, being Malinga, was unshaken. “This is Sri Lanka,” said Malinga, who is now playing his last World Cup before imminent retirement during the next home series. “We have to be surprised only if these things don’t happen. I am not disappointed to have lost the captaincy. But I believe there should have been a proper process in selecting the captain. They have set a bad precedent.”
    After their tour of New Zealand in January, all-rounder Thisara Perera wrote to Sri Lanka Cricket’s Chief Executive Ashley de Silva asking him to change the captaincy saying the team was a “laughing stock of a whole country all because of one person’s personal vendetta.He was referring to Malinga, whose wife had a social media spat with Perera, during the series. During the tour Malinga’s wife, Tanya, posted a message on Facebook accusing Thisara of getting Sports Minister Harin Fernando’s help to secure national team captaincy.
    “There are some players and coaches who didn’t want me as captain and I know they worked really hard to get me out,” Malinga said. “But I am not the loser. I am still at the top in my game whereas those who worked behind my back are struggling. They are either not in the team or struggling to get runs or ets.” Malinga’s 4-43 against England on Friday was a masterstroke that set up an unlikely win over world number one-ranked England in their own conditions, with Angelo Mathews also playing one of the best limited-over innings of his career under difficult conditions.
    “When I started, I never had plans to play this long but I am really proud of what I have done and what I continue to do, wherever I play,” Malinga said.“I don’t know anyone in the selection committee, not anyone at the Board. I have not been to a posh school. But my performance speaks for what I am. I can proudly stand on my own and be happy. At the end of the day, this is all what you need.”

    Malinga is a cricketing genius, a legend in his own right. While he was loved by fans around the world for his on-field brilliance, he has cultivated enemies within the team and in media due to his hostile attitude. But that is Malinga, the man from a village in the deep South.

    “I have never played cricket to please the captain or the coach,” he said.

    “If you can’t take wickets or score runs, it’s not anyone’s faults but yours. What happens now is they pass the buck to someone else in order to save their face. I take the responsibility for all my actions and I am not sacred to call a spade a spade,” Malinga, who is making his last appearance on the world’s biggest stage, said.

    Malinga was referring a leaked video after Sri Lanka beat South Africa in Test by 1-wicket to pull off a sensational win on the back of an unbeaten 153 off Kusal Janith Perera. In it, players were seen singing praises to Head Coach Chandika Hathurusingha, who is under tremendous pressure after he failed to turn Sri Lanka’s fortunes around since his much hyped arrival in January 2018.

    “With over 15 years of international experience, I know how to handle a team in the middle,” Malinga said in a scathing attack on Sri Lanka’s underperforming cricketers.

    “But I can’t teach them to score runs or take wickets. That responsibility lies with them. Can you blame the captain for going to the middle with a bunch of cricketers who can’t bat the full 50-overs in a game or take wickets to win a match?”

    The Sri Lankan team has been in complete turmoil during the last two years. They are currently ranked ninth in ODI cricket and eighth in T20 cricket. Since January 2018, Sri Lanka has had four different captains leading 30 limited-over internationals, a record no international team should emulate.

    “This is why we are number nine in ODI rankings and number eight in T20 rankings,” Malinga said.

    “I have seen people coming out at press conferences and claiming they have done so much to develop the game but where are we today? This is the bitter truth that many people don’t want to hear and see, but the truth I have spoken right through.”

    Two years ago, Malinga alleged that local curators were fixing pitches, an allegation promptly dismissed by cricket administrators. A few months later, International Cricket Council (ICC) Anti-Corruption officials are conducting investigations and have since charged four cricketers. One is banned for two years after he admitted to not cooperating with ongoing investigations.

    “I have spoken of match-fixing and pitch-fixing in the past,” he said.

    “But they dismissed this and put me out of the team for one-and-a-half years. Today, the whole world talks about it. There are ongoing investigations. I know I have spoken the truth. I don’t care who leads the side. If I take wickets, I will remain in the side and I have proven it over and over again. I trust no one but my skills.”

    Malinga maintains he would hang up his boots during the next home series.

    “I want to go in front of my own people and, if I am selected for the next tour, it will be my last. I will leave with my head held high.”

    But this seamer never plays like he has reached the twilight. He may not put the hard yards at the gym, as his pot belly suggests, and may not be the safest fielder in the squad. But with the ball in his hand, he is as deadly now as he was at his peak.

    Former Sri Lanka coach Paul Farbrace on Malinga

    “I think he’s been a legend in Sri Lankan cricket. You know his passion for the game, his enjoyment for the game is unbelievable. He, in many ways sums up Sri Lankan cricket. You know he’s slightly unorthodox in the way he bowls the ball but he played with a smile on his face. He’s passionate to win. He’s driven to win for Sri Lankan cricket. So I think he sums up everything that’s good about Sri Lankan cricket. He’s passionate. He is the most passionate Sri Lankan I’ve come across. He could have finished a few years ago but he’s still playing because he wants Sri Lankan people to enjoy watching the team play and that’s so important.

    England progressed to the quarter-finals of the Women's World Cup with a 3-0 victory over an enraged Cameroon side who protested after two VAR decisions went against them. Goals from Steph Houghton, Ellen White and Alex Greenwood sent England through to face Norway on Thursday, but the fractious game will be remembered for Cameroon's extraordinary reactions to White's goal and a disallowed effort from Ajara Nchout.

    The distraught Cameroon players twice appeared unwilling to restart the match, gathering in a huddle after White's strike was given and remonstrating with the officials further after half-time.Captain Houghton struck England's opener after an early backpass gave England an indirect free-kick, before the drama escalated.

    Striker White placed in England's second, which was initially ruled out before the video assistant referee deemed White to have been onside, but Cameroon reacted furiously and gestured to suggest the big screen's replays had indicated differently. The African side thought they had pulled a goal back after the break through Nchout, but their despair increased when it was disallowed after a VAR review for an extremely tight offside call.

    England left-back Greenwood then swept in the Lionesses' third to secure a win that saw them reach at least the last eight of the competition for a fifth time, and for the fourth consecutive World Cup.


    BBC pundits on 'extraordinary scenes' as Cameroon fume over VAR decisions
    'Very entertaining but for the wrong reasons' - the game that had everything
    Reaction to England's win against Cameroon
    A fractious evening in Valenciennes

    Cameroon have a goal ruled out for offside against England
    Cameroon, who are 43 places below Phil Neville's side in the world rankings and playing in only their second Women's World Cup, began the tie as major underdogs.

    They had reached the last 16 thanks to a 95th-minute winner over New Zealand on 20 June, which saw them progress as one of the four best third-placed sides, but Sunday's drama against England was of a different kind.

    There was an edge to the match early on, with Yvonne Leuko booked for an apparent elbow on England winger Nikita Parris, before Augustine Ejangue appeared to spit on Toni Duggan after the backpass that led to the opener.

    Cameroon then reacted with despair after White's goal was given by VAR, temporarily refusing to restart play, and some of their players were reportedly in tears in the tunnel at half-time.

    Boos and hissing from the stands then followed the decision to disallow Nchout's strike, coupled with widespread protestations from their substitutes.

    And the first ever competitive meeting between these two sides concluded with a poor challenge by Alexandra Takounda on Houghton, for which the Cameroon player was booked as her team-mates again remonstrated with the referee.

    Focused England carry on winning

    Alex Greenwood scores England's third goal of the game against Cameroon
    For England, who reached the semi-finals of their past two major tournaments and are the fourth favourites to lift the title in Lyon on 7 July, the win was another impressive one.

    Ejangue's backpass to the goalkeeper presented Neville's side with an indirect free-kick, which Duggan touched to Houghton to drill in to the corner from close range, finding a way past all 11 Cameroon players on the line.

    That opener gave England some control of the game and they added to it with White and Greenwood's efforts, while keeping a third consecutive clean sheet.

    However, there were sloppy moments at the back that will cause Neville concern, especially in the early part of the second half.

    Karen Bardsley's misplaced clearance and some subsequent slack marking allowed Nchout to find the net, before her effort was ruled out.

    Alexandra Engolo then twice went close after more poor England defending, but the majority of their performance over the 90 minutes was strong.

    Taylor scuffed wide late on as they pushed for a fourth goal, as the Lionesses won a fifth straight World Cup game - stretching back to 2015's third-place play-off - for the first time.

    Player of the match - Jill Scott (England)
    Jill Scott
    Jill Scott put in another energetic performance for England, in what was her 18th World Cup appearance
    'It didn't feel like football' - what they said
    England boss Phil Neville: "It didn't feel like football. I know we get these these briefs about coming on TV and saying it was good game, but that wasn't a last-16 tie in terms of behaviour from footballers.

    "This is going out worldwide. I didn't enjoy it, the players didn't enjoy it. My players kept their concentration, but those images are going out worldwide and young girls are seeing that behaviour and it's not right.

    "There has to be a standard of behaviour that you have to do, and my players did that."

    England have qualified for the quarter-finals of the Women's World Cup in each of their five tournament appearances (1995, 2007, 2011, 2015 and 2019).
    Cameroon have been eliminated in the last 16 in both of their Women's World Cup appearances (previously in 2015), while they exit the 2019 tournament having lost three of their four games (winning the other).
    England's 3-0 win over Cameroon was their second-biggest margin of victory in a Women's World Cup game, only behind their 6-1 win over Argentina in the 2007 group stage.
    Lionesses striker Ellen White has scored four goals at the 2019 Women's World Cup - the joint-most by an England player in a single tournament in the competition (Kelly Smith scored four in 2007).
    White has scored in all three of her appearances at the 2019 Women's World Cup (four goals in total), becoming the first England player to score in three consecutive games in the competition.
    Jill Scott made her 18th World Cup appearance. She has overtaken Peter Shilton (17) as the player with the most World Cup appearances for England.

    Meteorology Department Director of Forecasting, Anusha Warnasuriya said that there was no harm to Sri Lanka following the deep earthquake of magnitude 7.5 that struck off the coasts of East Timor and Indonesia today. The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) said Pacific monitoring authorities ruled out the chance of tsunami.

    Showers will occur at times in Sabaragamuwa and Central provinces and in Kaluthara districts.Several spells of showers will occur in Western province and in Galle and Matara districts. Light showers will occur in North-western province and in Hambantota district.Showers or thundershowers may occur at a few places in Uva province and in Batticaloa and Ampara districts after 2.00 p.m.Fairly strong gusty winds up to 40-50 kmph are likely in Hambantota districts.There may be temporary localized strong winds during thundershowers. General public is kindly requested to take adequate precautions to minimize damages caused by lightning activity.

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